Published: June 19th 2006June 11th 2006 On the end of the Armies!
Local houses on the floating reed islands on Lake Titicaca
We took the bus from Arequipa to Puno on my 30th birthday, which is a pretty rubbish way to spend a birthday, but when you’re depressed about the birthday it‘s pretty irrelevant!
Puno is a small, scruffy town at high-altitude (3,900m), and the only real reason to visit is to make a trip on to Lake Titicaca: the highest lake in the World. Indigenous tribes live on the lake, some on ‘floating’ islands made of reeds and others on real islands. We joined a tour group visiting both, and the floating Uros islands in particular were very cool, although the residents now rely on tourists for their living so it feels a little unreal. Taquile (the real island that we visited) was also good, but again the locals have cottoned on to the tourist trade and will let you take a photo of them for a few soles. The kids, in particular, were very enterprising…apparently they skip school to fleece tourists!
The plan to leave Puno for Cusco after a few days was foiled by pesky Peruvian farmers who started a strike against Peru’s international trade agreements, blockading both the roads
View from the watch tower
and railway line to Cusco. So, we ended up having to bus back to Arequipa and take a flight from there to Cusco.
Cusco also lived up to the hype. It’s bustling, pretty in parts and littered with bits of Incan architecture, in many cases with colonial buildings plonked on top. Much of the city clings to the hillsides, which - combined with the altitude - makes exploring pretty tiring. Given that parts of the Inca Trail are even higher than Cusco I was getting a bit nervous about it…..
There are more photos below